Case C-213/89 Factortame (No. 1) [1990] ECR 1-2433

Key point

  • National courts are obliged to grant interim relief of national legislation that are challenged for compatibility with EU law

Facts

  • The Merchant Shipping Act 1988 and Merchant Shipping Regulations 1988 put in place new requirements for registering a fishing vessel as a British one
  • Spanish nationals were excluded from fishing in British waters as a result
  • They sought judicial review of the compatibility of the 1988 Act and Regulations with the EEC Treaty and interim relief to suspend the 1988 Act and Regulations until final judgment was given
  • Under common law, courts had no power to suspend acts of Parliament by interim relief since no injunction may be ordered against the crown

Held (European Court of Justice)

  • National courts are obliged to grant interim relief of national legislation that are challenged for compatibility with Community law

Judgment

  • The principle of precedence means that conflicting provisions of national law must be disapplied: Simmenthal
  • National provision which might prevent even temporarily community rules from having full force and effect is incompatible with Community law
  • Full effectiveness of Community law would be just as impaired if national law could prevent a court from granting interim relief
  • Thus, a court is obliged to set aside rule that is the sole obstacle preventing it from granting interim relief